The 3rd edition of National DefTech Summit 2024, hosted by Tech Observer Magazine in collaboration with SIIC IIT Kanpur, marked a significant convergence of minds and innovations within India's defence, aerospace, and aviation industries.
The summit, supported by a host of partners including Acer, SIDBI, Startup Odisha, EY India, Wozku, SIA-India, and Communication Today, featured a comprehensive agenda that catered to a broad spectrum of topics pivotal to defence and aerospace sectors.
Moreover, the engagement of four startups from Startup Odisha—IG Drones, BONV Technology, Darubrahma Automation Robotics, and Jagannath Engineering Maritime Services—highlighted the event's emphasis on fostering innovation and entrepreneurship.
The summit commenced with an inaugural session that not only set the tone for the day but also underlined the overarching theme: “Reimagining India's Techade for Defence, Aerospace & Aviation“. This session included insightful contributions from key figures such as Startup Odisha Executive Chairman Dr. Omkar Rai, Dr. B K Das, Director General (Electronics & Communication System), DRDO, with a keynote address by Lt. Gen. Vinod Khandare, Advisor, Ministry of Defence, which together outlined the strategic vision and opportunities for technological advancements in these critical sectors.
Lt. Gen. Khandare elaborated on the Ministry's focus areas, including the integration of advanced technologies into defence strategies. He stressed the need for collaboration between the government, industry, and academia to drive forward India's defence capabilities.
Following the inaugural session, the agenda featured expert sessions by Srivatsan TA, Entity Head, North Region at Acer India and Arijit Dutt, General Manager, Venture Finance and Investment Vertical at the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), focusing on the technological landscape and investment opportunities in the defence and aerospace sectors.
Srivatsan presentation highlighted Acer India's contributions to the defence, aerospace, and aviation sectors through innovative technology solutions. He also discussed the company's latest products and services designed to meet the unique needs of these critical industries. He emphasised the importance of public-private partnerships in driving technological advancements and Acer India's commitment to supporting India's defence capabilities through cutting-edge technologies.
Arijit Dutt discussed SIDBI's role in supporting the growth of startups in the defence, aerospace, and aviation sectors through financial instruments and investment opportunities. Dutt outlined various initiatives and funding mechanisms designed to empower startups in these critical industries, emphasising the importance of financial support in nurturing innovation and technological development.
A visit to exhibition booths provided a practical exploration of the technologies and innovations put together by Acer India, SIDBI, Wozku and four young and energetics startups from Startup Odisha.
The summit's panel discussions covered a wide array of topics, starting with “Innovation and opportunities: Role of Startups in Defence, Aerospace, and Aviation”, which underscored the vital role of startups in contributing fresh ideas and innovations. The subsequent panel on “Reimagining Data Protection and Cyber Security for Aerospace, Aviation and Defence in the Age of Digital India” tackled the pressing issues of cybersecurity and data protection, moderated by EY India.
Post-lunch, the dialogue shifted to “Emerging Technologies and Innovation in the Area of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS)”, providing insights into the ethical, strategic, and technological implications of autonomous weaponry. This was followed by a discussion on “Future of Defence and Aerospace: Synergising Modern IT Architecture and Data Transformation with AI, Machine Learning, and Quantum Computing”, which delved into how emerging technologies can revolutionise these sectors.
The final panel discussion focused on “Digital Skill Development & Capacity Building for Government, Defence Forces, PSUs”, highlighting the importance of equipping personnel with the necessary digital skills to navigate the evolving technological landscape effectively.
The day concluded with a fireside chat discussion between Dr Subrata Rakshit, DS & Director General, (Technology Management), DRDO and Col. (Dr) Updesh Kumar Sharma, Joint Adviser, NITI Aayog on “Reimagining Tech Research Investment & Innovation for Defence & Aerospace”. The discussion emphasised the importance of continuous investment in research and innovation to sustain and enhance India's strategic capabilities.
The summit, attended by more than 30 speakers and over 160 delegates, facilitated a dynamic exchange of ideas, experiences, and insights. Through its comprehensive agenda, the National DefTech Summit 2024 provided a valuable platform for stakeholders across government, industry, academia, and the startup ecosystem to collaborate, envision, and contribute to the future trajectory of India's defence, aerospace, and aviation industries.